The past 72 hours of Trump-Russia news, explained

White House counsel Don McGahn.

Don McGahn, Michael Cohen, and everything else you might have missed.

This weekend kicked off with a question mark still hanging over the fate of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair, who’s facing multiple financial crimes charges, including bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, and false income tax returns.

That the jury went home on Friday without a verdict ended up being the least intriguing development in the Trump-Russia investigation this weekend.

On Friday evening, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team filed court documents recommending up to a six-month prison sentence for George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and had been cooperating with the Mueller investigation.

On Saturday, the New York Times published a report revealing that White House Counsel Don McGahn has been closely cooperating with the special counsel investigation of Trump’s possible attempts to obstruct justice.

This sparked a Trump Twitter rant that lasted through the weekend, in which he equated Mueller with the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who investigated US government officials he suspected of being secret communist sympathizers in the 1950s, often with little to no evidence.

Sunday saw Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani use the disturbingly Orwellian phrase “truth isn’t truth” to try to deflect questions about why Trump won’t sit down for an interview with Mueller. (Giuliani clarified his comments on Monday.)

It also brought the news that Manhattan federal prosecutors might be closer to charging Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, for nearly $20 million in bank fraud.

That’s a lot of stuff. If, like the Manafort juror, you wanted to go home early on Friday and enjoy a news-free weekend, here’s what you missed.

The jury is still deliberating in the Paul Manafort trial

The jury returned for its third day of deliberations on Monday in the trial of Paul Manafort. Judge T.S. Ellis met with both government prosecutors and defense lawyers twice on Monday morning and said the contents of the conservations would be released after the trial.

So the waiting game continues. The jury has been deliberating since Thursday morning, sending the judge four questions on day one of deliberations, and then asking for an early dismissal on the second day.

Manafort’s defense team has taken the delay as a good sign, but experts told Vox’s Emily Stewart over the weekend that it’s hard to draw any conclusions from the lack of verdict just yet. This is a complicated case involving 18 counts including bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, and other financial crimes.

“Probably means nothing,” Shira Scheindlin, a former United States district judge in the Southern District of New York, told Stewart. “Most juries are very meticulous. Bank fraud and tax fraud are complex statutes and involve unfamiliar concepts. They are not in the everyday experience of jurors.”

But at least another of Mueller’s targets will face sentencing soon

Mueller’s attorneys have recommended that former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos face up to six months in prison for lying to investigators about his contacts with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.

There are two key revelations from the court documents. The first: Papadapoulos most definitely lied, and government prosecutors warned him repeatedly against it.

In the court documents, Mueller’s team described Papadapoulos’s crime as serious and said he “caused damage to the government’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election” by lying to investigators early on when “key decisions” about “who to interview and when, were being made.”

Prosecutors said that Papadapoulos misled investigators about his contacts with professor Joseph Mifsud, who told him that the Russians had “thousands of emails” on Clinton. Papadapoulos eventually spilled this information to an Australian diplomat, who tipped off the FBI. This — and not the Steele dossier, as Trump and his Republican allies claim — is what initiated the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

“The defendant’s false statements were intended to harm the investigation, and did so,” government prosecutors wrote.

The second big revelation is that although Papadapoulos made a deal with Mueller’s team to cooperate in exchange for a reduced sentence, it seems he was reluctant to actually cooperate, and what he did offer wasn’t all that valuable.

According to the court filing:

The defendant did not provide “substantial assistance,” and much of the information provided by the defendant came only after the government confronted him with his own emails, text messages, internet search history, and other information it had obtained via search warrants and subpoenas well after the defendant’s FBI interview as the government continued its investigation.

Mueller’s team also flagged interviews that Papadapolous and his fiancée gave with the press, which further soured the government on working with Papadapoulos.

Which means Papadapoulos will be now punished for his crimes. His sentence is expected on September 7.

Cue the Nixon analogies: White House counsel Don McGahn doesn’t want to be the next John Dean

The New York Times’s Maggie Haberman and Mike Schmidt reported Saturday that White House counsel Don McGahn has done three voluntary interviews with the special counsel’s office, totaling more than 30 hours and covering topics from Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey to Trump’s attempts to fire Mueller himself. Some of the incidents wouldn’t have been known to investigators without McGahn talking about them openly, according to the Times.

According to the Times, McGahn has been so chatty because he feared Trump was setting him up to take the fall for obstruction of justice charges. McGahn “told people he was determined to avoid the fate of the White House counsel for President Richard M. Nixon, John W. Dean, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice in the Watergate scandal.”

Trump’s original legal team, which included attorneys John Dowd and Ty Cobb, had pursued a strategy of cooperation with Mueller, believing the more forthcoming they were, the sooner the investigation would wrap up. McGahn, however, reportedly thought this was something of a trap and wanted to make clear to prosecutors that he did nothing wrong.

This news is a potentially big deal — but it really all depends on what McGahn told investigators. And there are still a lot of outstanding questions about that. Even Trump’s current legal team doesn’t seem to be all that sure if McGahn’s account hurts or helps the president, as McGahn’s lawyers didn’t fully brief Trump’s legal team.

Dowd, Trump’s former attorney, told CNN that McGahn was a “strong witness for the President’s case.” Giuliani said the same on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Trump, meanwhile, seemed incensed by the story, tweeting about fake news and calling Dean, who flipped on Nixon, a “RAT.”

The bottom line: Mueller and his attorneys know what McGahn told them and how it may or may not play into the obstruction of justice investigation — and they’re absolutely not going to give any hints. Giuliani and Trump’s team can claim that this benefits the president, but they’re also speculating.

Trump probably won’t be sitting down with Mueller anytime soon

Amid the scramble over McGahn’s sit-downs with the special counsel, Giuliani made it quite clear that the president isn’t sitting down for an interview with Mueller’s team anytime soon.

The saga of whether Trump will talk to investigators has been going on for some time — adding up to months of excuses intended to obfuscate and delay.

Which brings us to Giuliani’s latest excuse: If the president sits down with Mueller, Trump will end up perjuring himself because “the truth isn’t the truth.”

Giuliani tried to clarify his remarks Monday, saying that a Trump interview would set up a “‘he said, she said’ puzzle.”

What Giuliani is really getting at here is that what the president says might not align with the testimony of other witnesses Mueller has spoken to in the course of the investigation, and that could put the president at risk of perjuring himself.

Either way, Trump doesn’t appear any closer to sitting down with Mueller for a voluntary interview, which means the likelihood of a legal showdown over a presidential subpoena seems more and more likely.

Michael Cohen may get charged with bank fraud soon. Will he cooperate with prosecutors?

Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are apparently getting closer to filing charges against Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, possibly by the end of this month.

The New York Times reported Sunday that Cohen may be facing bank and tax fraud charges connected to more than $20 million in loans related to his taxi business. Prosecutors are also reportedly investigating whether the hush-money payoff he helped orchestrate to porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal during the 2016 election violated any campaign finance laws.

Cohen has been in legal jeopardy for some time, after the feds raided his home, office, and hotel room on April 9. Mueller referred the case to the Southern District of New York.

Right now, prosecutors seem to be homing in on his taxi business — in particular, whether he misrepresented the value of his business assets to two financial institutions, and whether he failed to report money he made from his business to the Internal Revenue Service. (Cohen owned taxi medallions, which are the permits operators need to drive taxis in New York City; they used to be valued well over $1 million but have nosedived in recent years, mostly from competition from ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.)

This seems to be all about Cohen’s shady business activities and not his former boss’s activities. But the question now is whether Cohen may plead guilty to these charges and decide to “flip” on Trump — whether about the hush money payments, Trump’s other business transactions, or Trump’s ties to Russia.

Cohen has been signaling for a while that he might be ready to make a deal with prosecutors. His attorney, Lanny Davis, released a secret audio recording from September 2016 of Cohen and Trump discussing a hush-money payment to Karen McDougal. Sources also told CNN last month that Cohen was willing to tell Mueller that Trump knew ahead of time about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, during which Russians offered dirt on Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump Jr. and other members of Trump’s team.

The Southern District of New York, in pursuing plea deals, traditionally requires defendants to admit to all crimes they’ve committed, even if they’re unrelated to questions that sparked the initial investigation. If Cohen does reach a plea agreement, he would likely have to talk to Mueller, according to the Times. But it’s not yet clear if Cohen is willing to cooperate — or if he has anything of value for federal prosecutors to make a deal worthwhile.

source: vox

Arizona’s Kelli Ward is campaigning with an alt-right troll to prove her love for Trump


She’s hitting the road with Pizzagate propagator Mike Cernovich.

The already complicated Arizona Senate race just got even more bizarre.

Arizona Senate candidate Kelli Ward, a Republican who’s been focused on her ties to President Trump, has now enlisted a well-known conspiracy theorist and alt-right troll to participate in her campaign.

Pizzagate propagator Mike Cernovich is among the cast of characters — a veritable who’s who of far-right personalities — that is scheduled to partake in Ward’s upcoming “Road to Victory” campaign tour later this week. The tour, which will also feature an appearance from conservative commentator Tomi Lahren and a video shoutout by Iowa Rep. Steve King, is Ward’s last-ditch effort to convince voters of her Trump bona fides as she seeks to fend off challenges from former Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Rep. Martha McSally.

Ward — who first ran for Senate in a race against John McCain in 2016 — has positioned herself as a Republican molded in Trump’s image, who’s willing to call bullshit on the establishment and moderates like McCain and Jeff Flake. “We’re Through With Lying, Fake ‘Conservatives,’” her campaign website emphasizes. Her Twitter account is also dedicated to slamming RINOs (Republicans in name only) and includes frequent attacks on McSally as well as the state’s current senators.

Ward’s association with Cernovich appears to be part of her latest effort to appeal to far-right Republican voters in advance of the state’s heated Senate primary next week, and an attempt to further define herself as anti-establishment. When asked about her connections to the alt-right in a recent MSNBC interview, however, Ward struggled to distance herself from the movement — which has become synonymous with bigotry toward women and minorities — even as she welcomed one of its key ambassadors to her campaign.

Ward ultimately seemed to admit her true aims: She’s interested in using Cernovich’s platform and doesn’t seem to mind that it’s previously involved comments defending rape and the promotion of fake theories like Pizzagate, which have spurred violence.

“Mike Cernovich has an audience that we want to reach, and that includes Republicans, conservatives, liberals, Democrats, people of all ilks,” she said. “And so if he’s coming on the bus tour, I think he’ll have a voice and he’ll have something that he wants to say.”

With just over a week left before the state’s primary next Tuesday, Ward is racing to take down Arpaio, a fellow Trump acolyte, and McSally, who’s widely seen as the establishment pick and the frontrunner. According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Ward trails McSally by roughly 8 percentage points.

One of the key factors that have pushed Ward’s campaign further and further to the right is Arpaio’s entry into the race. While Ward was seen as the de facto Trump candidate before he opted to run and even garnered the president’s praise on Twitter, Arpaio has effectively split this base of support and forced Ward to scramble as they both face off against McSally.

So far, the president has kept mum about his current preferences in this race — intermittently doling out praise to Ward, McSally, and Arpaio and frustrating some Republicans in the process. It’s unclear whether Ward’s latest stunt will have any impact on his calculus.

source: vox

Why we demolished Ayefele’s Music House—Oyo govt.


The Oyo State Government on Monday said that due process was followed in the demolition of the Music House belonging to the popular musician, Yinka Ayefele.

Yinka Ayefele’s Music House Before Demolition

It also said that no court order restrained it from carrying out its statutory role in the public interest.

Mr Waheed Gbadamosi, the Special Adviser to Gov. Abiola Ajimobi on Physical Planning and Development Control, claimed at a press conference in Ibadan that government gave ample opportunity for Music House to regularise its building plan.

He further said the organisation was duly informed through several correspondences, adding that the action of the government to demolish the building was not politically motivated.

Gbadamosi said that it was established during a visit to the building that it encroached into the sight distance of the Y junction along Lagelu Estate, stressing that a canteen, toilets, store and powerhouse, which were not in the plan submitted, were attached to the wall fence.

Yinka Ayefele’s Music House After Demolition

He added that the mast erected and staircase on site were not included in the plan submitted, noting that the basement of the plan which was meant for car park had also been converted.

Gbadamosi said that a letter was sent to Music House on June 29, 2018, to submit a fresh building plan application that will reflect the existing structures on site and regularise the anomalies.

He alleged that the radio house deliberately ignored the letter until the demolition notices were sent on Aug. 13, 2018, based on the earlier request for the submission of AS-Built Plan for approval

Gbadamosi reiterated that government’s action was not based on sentiments or witch-hunting, saying contravention notices had been served to different organisations in the state since June 14, 2017.

He insisted that the building plan from Music House deviated from the approved plan, adding that “ this made the approval null and void because deceitful information was given to the approving authority.’’(NAN)


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NECO releases June/July 2018 SSCE result


The National Examinations Council (NECO) has released the June/July 2018 Senior Secondary Schools result, a statement issued on Monday in Minna said.

The Acting Registrar, Alhaji Abubakar Gana, said in the statement that 1,041,536 candidates registered, while 1,032,729 candidates actually sat for the examination.

Gana said that 939,733 candidates representing 90.47 per cent scored five credits and above without English and Mathematics.

He also said that 875, 464 candidates, representing 84.77 per cent scored credits in English Language while 850,331 candidates representing 82.34 per cent, scored credits in mathematics.

Furthermore, he said that a total of 742,455 candidates representing 71.48 per cent scored five credits and above including English language and Mathematics.

Gana said that in 2017, 70.85 per cent of the candidates had five credits and above including in English and Mathematics as against 71.48 per cent in 2018, showing 0.63 per cent improved performance in the current result.

According to him, a total of 20,181 candidates were involved in examination malpractice — 3,269 candidates in mathematics and 2,177 candidates in English Language.

He decried the fact that 838 candidates were absent from the examinations, yet had answer scripts. (NAN)


Speaker Dogara’s Eid-el-Kabir Message with Love, Tolerance


Turaki Hassan, Abuja: Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has enjoined the Muslim Ummah and Nigerians in general to imbibe the spirit of sacrifice, love and tolerance for the peace, unity and progress of the country.

In a goodwill message to Muslims to mark the Eid el-kabir Sallah celebration, Speaker Dogara also charged religious leaders to always preach and promote ethno-religious tolerance as well as foster peace and unity among the people ahead of the 2019 general elections for the good of the nation.

“While rejoicing with our Muslim brothers on this auspicious occasion of Eid el-Kabir Sallah celebration, which symbolises sacrifice and obedience, I wish to enjoin all people of goodwill to be steadfast in love for one another and demonstrate renewed commitment to the Nigerian project in order to make our society ideal for all and towards the fulfillment of the country’s great potentials”.

“I also urge our religious leaders to take advantage of the season and preach peace, unity and tolerance among the diverse people, especially now that the country is at critical political crossroads, with the electioneering process gaining momentum as the 2019 general elections draw nearer”.

“On our part as lawmakers, we will continue to pursue people-oriented legislations and initiate reforms and legislative interventions that will guarantee peace and stability in the polity and the nation as a whole as well as improve the living conditions of the citizens”.


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Service chiefs brief President Buhari on security; Benue, Zamfara, Taraba in focus


President Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday, at the Presidential Villa, had a closed door meeting with service chiefs.

The president proceeded to Daura, Kastina State, for Eid-el-Kabir celebration shortly afterwards.

National Security Adviser, Rtd. Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno with Service Chiefs

Speaking with State House correspondents after the meeting, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Maj. Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, said the essence of the meeting was to review the security situation in the country.

He said that the meeting focused mainly on the situation in Benue, Zamfara and Taraba States.

“We just had two and half hour meeting with the President and Commander in Chief, we reviewed the security situation across the country in all the geopolitical zones.

“We made all our comments; especially the new operations in Benue, Zamfara, Taraba, Operation Whirlstroke and Operation Saradaji.

“We gave the extent of successes in these operations and we are to continue in this line of action in these operations.

“All the operations were reviewed and all the issues concerning the operations were dealt with.

“He directed that we should continue to step up our game to ensure that the nation is safe and people go about their daily activities in a very safe manner,’’ he said.

On his part, the Minister of Defence, Dan Ali Monsur, said the meeting was a normal routine security briefing with the president.

He said it was an update on what transpired when the President was away.

“We have seen that there is a lot of improvement in the security situation in the country, especially in Zamfara and Benue States and in the Niger Delta.

“In the North-East, we are having a worrisome report; we have looked into it critically and we have taken an absolute decision,’’ he said.

Other service chiefs in attendance were Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Theophilus Buratai, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ebok Ibas and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.

Also in attendance were the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, the National Security Adviser, Rtd. Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, Acting Director General, Department of State Service (DSS), Matthew Seiyefa, Director General, National Intelligence Agency(NIA), Ahmed Abubakar and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha. (NAN)


Eid-el-Kabir: U.S. Embassy shuts operations in Lagos, Abuja


The U.S. Embassy in Nigeria is to close operations in its Abuja and Lagos offices on Tuesday and Wednesday in observance of the Eid-el-Kabir.

The embassy announced the closure in its twitter handle @USEmbassyAbuja accessed by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.

The embassy urged its citizens to exercise caution during the period.

It also advised Americans in Nigeria to be aware of their surroundings during the holiday, noting that security measures in Nigeria remain heightened due to threats posed by extremist groups.

“The Embassy in Abuja and the Consulate General in Lagos will be closed on Aug. 21 and Aug. 22 in observance of Eid-el-Kabir. We will reopen on Thursday, Aug. 23.

“Exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings during the holiday,” the embassy said.

The embassy advised Americans in Nigeria to carry proper identification, including a U.S. passport with a current Nigerian visa.

“Expect additional police and military checkpoints and possible road blocks throughout the country, exercise caution when walking or driving at night. Review travel routes and times to reduce time and place predictability.

“Avoid crowds and demonstrations. Be aware of your surroundings. Keep a low profile. Stay alert in public places, including schools, hospitals, and government facilities, places of worship, tourist locations and transportation hubs.

“Review your personal security plans. Monitor local media for updates,” it added.

NAN reports that the embassy on Aug. 15 temporarily suspended its consular services in Abuja due to reasons it said were beyond its control.

The embassy, however, maintained that its Consulate Office in Lagos was not affected by the development.

While expressing regret on the inconvenience the development might cause applicants, the embassy expressed the hope to resume operations after the Eid-el-Kabir

The embassy advised applicants to please monitor the Facebook and Webpage of the U.S. Embassy for updates on consular operations.(NAN)


2018 Republican nominees don’t want to talk about Trump

Trump is the leader of the Republican Party, but is the party fully Trumpian?

Trump is the leader of the GOP, but House Republican candidates don’t want to speak his name.

President Donald Trump is the leader of the Republican Party, but a new report from the Brookings Institution analyzing Republican candidates in the 2018 midterms indicates that the GOP doesn’t want to talk about him.

The majority of Republican nominees in the 2018 midterms don’t mention Trump on the campaign trail, according to Brookings’ analysis. Of all non-incumbent Republicans running for the House, 53 percent don’t talk about the president at all. Just 37 percent of Republican candidates talk of Trump positively. And among Republican nominees, who have already won their primaries, a slimmer 33 percent talk of Trump in a positive light.

On one hand, this makes sense; Trump has had a consistently low approval rating, and the political party in power is usually disadvantaged in the midterm elections. In that regard, it’s easy to see why it would be politically expedient for candidates to distance themselves from both a controversial president and an unpopular Republican-led Congress.

We’ve already seen some high-profile examples of this in contested Republican primaries. Two pro-Trump House Republican candidates in the Indiana Republican Senate race fell short of business-minded outsider Mike Braun. In Tennessee, Rep. Diane Black, who had billed herself as the president’s pick also lost to a more traditional business-minded Republican candidate, Bill Lee. In both those cases, House Republican candidates lost to outsiders.

On the other hand, this finding is somewhat at odds with how we have seen the Republican Party behave under Trump.

Since Trump has taken office, elected Republicans have bent backward to defend the president, even in his most indefensible moments. Conservatives have abandoned long-held positions on open immigration, free trade, and small government to stand in lock-step behind a president who has established a xenophobic and isolationist agenda, and paid little attention to the bloated deficit. They’ve found ways to excuse Trump’s praises of dictators his and racist dog-whistles.

And we’ve seen the political downfall of Trump’s biggest critics on Capitol Hill, from Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), who lost his primary to a far-right challenger, to Sens. Jeff Flake (AZ) and Bob Corker (TN), who have censured the president most aggressively and both felt pressure to retire.

When Flake announced his retirement, he warned against the Republican Party becoming the party of Trump.

“I’m aware that there’s a segment of my party that believes that anything short of complete and unquestioning loyalty to a president who belongs to my party is unacceptable and suspect,” Flake said then.

But perhaps, as those already in office fight to side with the president, the tide may be changing with Republican candidates on the ground.

source: vox

FIFA shelves planned ban on Nigeria as FG endorses Pinnick as NFF President


The Federal Government has announced its recognition of the Amaju Pinnick-led executive as the authentic leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Laolu Akande, Special Assistant to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made the announcement on his official Twitter handle on Monday.

The tweet which was sent at 11.38 a.m., few minutes before the 12 p.m. deadline given by FIFA for the resolution of the leadership tussle in the Nigerian football governing body, said the government had already informed FIFA of the decision.

“The FG has already conveyed to FIFA its firm position recognizing Amaju Pinnick-led NFF as the current & only NFF Exco.

“Govt will also continue to work with all relevant stakeholders involved to resolve dispute in a timely manner. FG is upholding NFF treaty obligations to FIFA,’’ Akande tweeted.

World football governing body FIFA had on Tuesday said it would go on to suspend Nigeria from football activities if they failed to comply with its instructions by Monday at noon (CET).

FIFA, in a statement by its Media Office, said it had been notified about ongoings in the NFF, and it viewed them as “undue interference in their affairs’’.

It said Nigeria must ensure the NFF offices in Abuja were occupied by the Amaju Pinnick faction of the federation’s Congress by Monday.

NAN also reports that the Glass House had been occupied at different times by both the Chris Giwa and Pinnick factions of the federation’s Congress

This occupation has however been with the aid of men of the Nigeria Police and the Department of State Services at such times. (NAN)


Oyo Govt Denies Knowledge Of Demolition Of Ayefele Music House


The Oyo State Government on Monday denied demolishing the music house of gospel musician, Yinka Ayefele, in Ibadan.

The state government, through its counsel, Mr Yomi Alliyu, made the denial when he appeared before Justice Iyabo Yerima of the State High Court, Ring Road, Ibadan, on Monday.

Alliyu appeared for the first and second defendants, Gov. Abiola Ajimobi and Mr Bola Abimbola (State Attorney-General), in a case instituted by Ayefele against the defendants.

The council said his clients were shocked to read about the reported demolition on Sunday morning.

According to him, the state government is planning to set up a panel of enquiry to find out those responsible for the demolition.

”My clients are men of honour that respect rule of law and constituted authority and will have no reason to demolish the said property,” he told the court.

Alliyu, who had earlier denied that his clients were served with court processes, quickly reversed himself when the judge showed him evidence of actual service on the first and second respondents.

The defence counsel, however, urged the court to adjourn the case pending the time the claimant would be able to file and serve his clients with notice of the ex-parte motion since the court was on vacation.

He said that filing of motion on notice and letter of urgency alone by the claimant was not enough.

But the claimant’s counsel, Mr Olayinka Bolanle, had informed the court that the respondents had gone ahead to demolish the structure in spite of a court’s restraining order

“Even after the defendants had become aware of this proceedings, it is sad and unbelievable my Lord that the defendants in the wee hours of Sunday, Aug 19, went to the property in dispute and demolished it,” he told the court.

The claimant’s counsel urged the court to reiterate its earlier order restraining the defendants from further demolition of the rest of the structure pending the determination of the suit.

Justice Yerima adjourned the case until Sept. 12 for the hearing of applications and urged parties to file necessary processes before the adjourned date. (NAN)


Michael Cohen is reportedly being investigated for $20 million in bank and tax fraud

Michael Cohen, former personal attorney for President Donald Trump, exits the Loews Regency Hotel on July 27, 2018, in New York City.

Prosecutors are considering filing charges by the end of August — if Cohen doesn’t strike a deal first.

We might be closer to the end of the Michael Cohen story than we are the beginning, according to a new report.

William Rashbaum, Ben Protess, and Maggie Haberman at the New York Times reported late Sunday that federal investigators looking into Cohen’s business activities are focused on more than $20 million in loans to taxi businesses that Cohen and his family own. The value of the loans, from two New York financial institutions that cater to the taxi industry, has not been previously reported. Investigators are also probing payouts made by Cohen to women who alleged they had affairs with Donald Trump in exchange for their silence, which could have run afoul of campaign finance laws.

According to the Times, the investigation into Cohen, which is being handled by the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, is entering its final stages, and prosecutors are considering filing charges by the end of August — that is, of course, if Cohen doesn’t reach an agreement with prosecutors first. Cohen could reach some sort of plea deal in which he provides information — including to special counsel Robert Mueller as part of the Russia investigation — in exchange for leniency.

Cohen has indicated in the past that he’s open to the idea. Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer has sounded increasingly disloyal to the president publicly. After he switched up his legal team in June, there were multiple reports that he might be considering cooperating with investigators.

“My wife, my daughter, and my son have my first loyalty and always will,” Cohen said in an interview with George Stephanopoulos for Good Morning America in July. “I put my family and country first.”

Investigators have reportedly zeroed in on $20 million in loans

According to the Times, investigators are looking into whether Cohen may have committed bank and tax fraud with regard to a series of loans totaling more than $20 million made to him by Sterling National Bank and the Melrose Credit Union in 2014. They’re looking at whether Cohen misrepresented the value of his assets to get the loans, how he handled income from the taxi medallions he owned (which are required to operated New York City taxis), and whether he failed to report money he made in cash to the IRS.

The Times report also indicates that Evgeny Freidman, a longtime friend and former business associate of Cohen’s, might provide evidence against him. Friedman, the so-called “Taxi King,” started cooperating with investigators this spring after a federal judge found he transferred more than $60 million into offshore accounts to avoid paying debts. He might be a problem for Cohen:

Mr. Freidman was facing up to 25 years in prison in an unrelated state fraud case in Albany involving his taxi business. But he struck a deal with state prosecutors under which he avoided prison in return for cooperating with federal authorities investigating Mr. Cohen.

Several people with knowledge of the matter have said investigators are focusing, in part, on precisely what was done with the monthly payments of the income from the taxi medallions that Mr. Freidman made to Mr. Cohen, what representations Mr. Cohen made to the banks about those payments, and whether they were reported on Mr. Cohen’s taxes.

Since the FBI raided his home and office in April, Cohen has become a major focal point in the ongoing probes into President Trump’s inner circle and their business dealings. Special counsel Mueller started the investigation into Cohen and then passed it off to the Southern District of New York, and if Cohen strikes a deal with prosecutors, the Times reports that it’s likely it will involve him providing information to Mueller.

Of course, Cohen might not make a deal — maybe he’ll refuse, or he won’t agree to terms, or prosecutors will decide he doesn’t have enough information to make it worthwhile. If the issue isn’t wrapped up by August, prosecutors are likely to wait until after the 2018 midterms, according to the Times.

source: vox

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2018’s most fascinating governor’s election, explained


The Alaska governor’s race is a true three-way contest: Bill Walker vs. Mark Begich vs. Mike Dunleavy.

One state defies any easy red wave or blue wave characterization in the 2018 elections: Alaska, big, remote, and the home to the midterms’ most interesting governor’s race.

Tuesday’s primary elections are mostly a formality, though there is a large GOP field. For now, the general election in November is shaping up to be a three-man race: incumbent independent Gov. Bill Walker, former US senator and presumed Democratic nominee Mark Begich, and Republican primary frontrunner state Sen. Mike Dunleavy.

The fear for the Democratic forces in the state is that Walker, who expanded Medicaid and positions himself as a practical centrist, and Begich, who has criticized the current government for cutting into the state’s unique economic welfare program, will split votes and create an opening for Dunleavy to win the governor’s house.

The Begich and Walker camps could cut a deal to avoid that scenario. Possible solutions include one candidate dropping out and endorsing the other or some kind of unity ticket. They have until September 4, when ballots start to get printed, to act. It’s a situation with some precedent in this state whose politics defy easy categorization.

The Alaska Permanent Fund, and its current crisis, explained

Walker did enjoy some popularity early in his term, after expanding Medicaid, but it appears the state of the state government has soured voters on him. Morning Consult has his approval rating at 29 percent and his disapproval at 54 percent, the fifth most unpopular governor in the country.

A drop in oil prices has created something of an economic crisis in the state. Alaska is very dependent on oil — and oil prices have been falling and the state’s revenue with it. Alaska is currently looking at several billion dollars in annual budget deficits with no end in sight. The options are tax hikes or spending cuts.

The oil crisis has also hurt the permanent fund that pays dividends to every Alaskan, the closest the United States has to a universal basic income. The fund is funded by oil money, and the dividends have shrunk nearly by half — from $2,100 to $1,100 — over the past few years, as Vox’s Dylan Matthews reported.

Walker is selling himself as the pragmatist making hard financial decisions. He and the state legislature have dipped into the permanent fund to help stave off a financial crisis. But Begich’s campaign argues that eating into the permanent fund and reducing checks to Alaskans is effectively a tax hike on poor people who depend on that money for their basic economic security.

The other big issue in the campaign is a surge in property crime, which is linked to the opioid crisis: Alaska ranks toward the top on drug overdose deaths. Vehicle thefts, in particular, rose to twice the 10-year average in 2017. Both Begich and Dunleavy focus on crime in their critiques of the Walker administration.

The political quagmire of the Alaska governor’s race

All this has brought Walker to a point where he’s being challenged by both parties. Begich, who is running unopposed in Tuesday’s primary, is a former Democratic senator and a son in a state political dynasty. He has been out of politics for the last four years, but the former Anchorage mayor is a familiar face in a state where everybody likes to think that they know each other.

Dunleavy has been in the state legislature since 2013. He’s running on a “Make Alaska Safe Again” platform — explicitly emulating a Trump-like message and promising to cut taxes and cut spending while somehow still leaving the permanent fund untouched. Democrats foresee draconian budget cuts to other programs if the Republican wins.

The candidates are already looking ahead to the general election. There’s a possibility that Begich and Walker could split the center-to-left vote in the state and create an opening for Dunleavy to break through. Two polls, conducted in June, found Dunleavy ahead of Begich and Walker, but with the latter two still taking more than 20 percent of the vote respectively — a classic split vote.

The Walker and Begich campaigns have talked, at least preliminarily, about how to avoid Dunleavy win, Jim Lottsfeldt, a longtime Democratic operative in the state who oversaw a pro-Begich Super PAC in 2014, told me. The presumed options would be one of Walker or Begich dropping out and endorsing the other — or perhaps some kind of unity ticket.

It has happened here before: Walker allied with Democrat Byron Mallott for a unity ticket to win his first election in 2014. Begich endorsed Walker then, while Walker did not return the favor. The senator’s strong ground game may have helped carry Walker to victory that year even as he fell short in his own campaign.

“Walker probably owes his job to Begich, and now they’re running against each other,” Lottsfeldt told me.

After Tuesday’s primary elections, the two sides will have about a week before the general election ballot is finalized.

A deal may not materialize. Even if it doesn’t, it’s possible Walker will fade given his deep unpopularity and Begich’s strong profile helps him beat Dunleavy on his own. True three-way elections are notoriously difficult to predict. The Cook Political Report rates the Alaska governor’s race a toss-up.

source: vox

The case against empathy


Why this Yale psychologist thinks you should be compassionate, not empathetic.

Who can be against empathy? If our moral intuitions align on anything, is it not on the idea that empathy for other human beings is a good thing? What harm could come from identifying with the thoughts and feelings of our fellow creatures?

According to Paul Bloom, a professor of psychology at Yale, most of us are completely wrong about empathy. The author of a new book titled Against Empathy, Bloom uses clinical studies and simple logic to argue that empathy, however well-intentioned, is a poor guide for moral reasoning. Worse, to the extent that individuals and societies make ethical judgments on the basis of empathy, they become less sensitive to the suffering of greater and greater numbers of people.

“I want to make a case for the value of conscious, deliberative reasoning in everyday life, arguing that we should strive to use our heads rather than our hearts.” Such is the plea that Bloom makes in the opening pages of the book. What follows is a lucidly argued tract about the hazards of good intentions.

I sat down with Bloom to talk about his case against empathy. To be perfectly transparent, I read Bloom’s book — and entered into this conversation — with a fair degree of skepticism. I’ve long believed empathy to be the basis for human solidarity (for reasons I explain below). So if he’s right, then I’ve been wrong for virtually all of my life.

After reading his book and engaging him in this conversation, I think he’s (mostly) right.

Sean Illing

How do you define empathy? And how is it distinct from, say, compassion or sympathy?

Paul Bloom

It’s a great question because a lot of people freak out when they see my title. I’ve come to realize that people mean different things by empathy. Some people take empathy to mean everything good or moral, or to be kind in some general sense. I’m not against that. There’s another sense of empathy which is narrower and which has to do with understanding other people. And that’s not exactly what I’m talking about. I think that understanding people is important, but it’s not necessarily a force for good. It can be a force for evil as well.

By empathy I mean feeling the feelings of other people. So if you’re in pain and I feel your pain — I am feeling empathy toward you. If you’re being anxious, I pick up your anxiety. If you’re sad and I pick up your sadness, I’m being empathetic. And that’s different from compassion. Compassion means I give your concern weight, I value it. I care about you, but I don’t necessarily pick up your feelings.

A lot of people think this is merely a verbal distinction, that it doesn’t matter that much. But actually there’s a lot of evidence in my book that empathy and compassion activate different parts of the brain. But more importantly, they have different consequences. If I have empathy toward you, it will be painful if you’re suffering. It will be exhausting. It will lead me to avoid you and avoid helping. But if I feel compassion for you, I’ll be invigorated. I’ll be happy and I’ll try to make your life better.

Sean Illing

I take all the points you just made, but empathy still strikes me as a largely positive — or useful — emotion. One could argue that having empathy actually opens the door to more compassion.

Paul Bloom

My beef is with empathy in particular, with its role in decision making. Empathy has certain design features that do make it positive in certain restricted circumstances. If you and I are the only people on earth and you’re in pain and I can help you and make your pain go away, and I feel empathy toward you and so I make your life better, empathy has done something good. But the real world is nowhere near as simple. Empathy’s design failings have to do with the fact that it acts like a spotlight. It zooms you in. But spotlights only illuminate where you point them at, and for that reason empathy is biased.

I’m likely to feel empathy toward you, a handsome white guy, but somebody who is repulsive or frightening I don’t feel empathy for. I actually feel a lot less empathy for people who aren’t in my culture, who don’t share my skin color, who don’t share my language. This is a terrible fact of human nature, and it operates at a subconscious level, but we know that it happens. There’s dozens, probably hundreds, of laboratory experiments looking at empathy and they find that empathy is as biased as can be.

The second problem is the innumeracy. Empathy zooms me in on one but it doesn’t attend to the difference between one and 100 or one and 1,000. It’s because of empathy we often care more about a single person than 100 people or 1,000 people, or we care more about an attractive white girl who went missing than we do a 1,000 starving children who don’t look we do or live where we don’t live.

So it might feel good but empathy often leads us to make stupid and unethical decisions.

Sean Illing

Is empathy necessarily a spotlight? Does it have to be focused on one or two people at a time? Is that part of the structure of empathy or is that just the most common manifestation?

Paul Bloom

I think it’s part of what empathy is. Empathy as we’re talking about it is, “I put myself in your shoes.” So how many people can you do that with? Well maybe I could do that with you and some other guy at the same time. You’re feeling different things and I kind of got them both in my head. Can I do it for 10 or 12 or a 100 people? No. Maybe an almighty god could do that, could empathize with every living being. But typically, we zoom in on one.

And so it’s different from morality more generally. When I make a moral judgment, I can take into account, if I do this, 10 people will suffer but a thousand people will benefit. And with health care, gun control, or something like that, you deal with numbers.

But empathy, by its very nature, is like a spotlight.

Sean Illing

So it’s your view that empathy is not only a poor guide for moral reasoning; it actually makes people — and the world — worse?

Paul Bloom

I think empathy is a great for all sorts of things. It’s a wonderful source of pleasure, for instance. The joy of fiction would disappear if we couldn’t, on some level, empathize with the characters. A lot of our intimacy would fade. I think empathy is central to sex. It’s great for all sorts of things.

In the moral domain, however, empathy leads us astray. We are much better off if we give up on empathy and become rational deliberators motivating by compassion and care for others.

Sean Illing

Can you give an example of empathy gone wrong in everyday life?

Paul Bloom

I’ll give a controversial one and then a less controversial one. The controversial one has to do with the role of empathy in our criminal justice system, specifically victim statements. In many states, not all, there are victim statements, and these victim statements allow people talk about what happened to them and what it was like when their family member died or when they were assaulted; these often determine sentencing.

I could not imagine a better recipe for bias and unfair sentencing decisions than this. If the victim is an articulate, attractive, white woman, it’s going to be so much more powerful than if the victim is a sullen, African-American man who doesn’t like to talk about his feelings. You suddenly turn the deep questions of how to punish criminals into a question of how much do I feel for this person in front of me? So the bias would be incredibly powerful. So that’s case one.

Case two is about Donald Trump. Trump’s rhetoric about immigrants and Muslims was often framed, particularly early in his campaign, in terms of the suffering of people. He would actually tell these stories. In his rallies, he would tell stories of victims of rape and victims of shooting. He would tell stories of people who lost their jobs. And he was appealing to the empathy of supporters, whose concerns extended mostly to their own tribe.

Three hundred years ago, Adam Smith noted that when you feel empathy for someone who’s been abused or assaulted, it translates into anger and hatred toward those who’ve done the abuse. And I think we see that in the real world all the time. Whenever somebody wants you to kick a bunch of people out of your country or go to war, they’ll tell you a really sad story of some poor person who looks like you and got victimized in some way. Sometimes the story is false, sometimes it’s true, but it is a case in which empathy really goes wrong.

Sean Illing

I find your broad arguments about empathy persuasive, but I think your critique doesn’t hold as well for interpersonal relationships or parent-child dynamics. On some level, aren’t we obliged to care more about the people that we love or the people we call friends? And if that’s true, doesn’t that require something like empathy?

Paul Bloom

This is a great question. I have a whole chapter where I struggle with this. A lot of my book is like, “this is the way it is, man.” But I have a chapter on intimate relationships where I struggle exactly with these questions. It goes off in two directions. So one direction is, “empathy is biased, it plays favorites,” but there are some biases that don’t seem bad. I love my kids a lot more than I love you and I’m not ashamed of that. I don’t think I’m making a moral mistake. And I don’t think it’s a mistake to care more about my friends and my family than about strangers.

I think I’m making a mistake if I care about white people more than dark-skinned people. But friends and family? That seems right. In that sense, the bias of empathy isn’t such a problem. But I think the bias that that reflects is just a more general bias. If you took away empathy from my brain, I’d still love my kids. Because every other emotion is going to go in that direction. In that case, I think empathy’s bias per se isn’t a problem.

The other strand of your question is, the examples we’ve been giving so far have been about policy issues — going to war and victim statements. What about dealing with your kids, with your wife, with your friends? Don’t you want to be empathic to them? And I think the answer to that is mixed. I think the answer is often no.

Suppose you come to me and you’re freaked out, you’re anxious. Do you really want me to get anxious too? Do you want me to empathize with your anxiety, not just understand but feel it too? Presumably not. You want me to be calm. If you’re depressed, you don’t want me to sink into depression. Then you’ve got two problems instead of just one. You want me to sort of be uplifting, cheer you up, put things in perspective.

I think there’s a case for empathy, particularly with positive emotions. If we’re friends and something great has happened to you, you may want me to share your joy, not just be happy that things are well with you but actually share your positive feelings. I see nothing wrong with that.

Sean Illing

You made an interesting distinction there between feeling and understanding, and you alluded to this earlier as well. I wonder if you could unpack that just a bit. Are you saying that to be empathetic is to feel what someone is feeling, and not merely to understand it or relate to it in some way?

Paul Bloom

It’s actually critical to my argument that those are two separate things. Everybody agrees that to be a good person you have to understand other people. You can’t buy someone a birthday present unless you understand them on some level. And you can’t make a kid happy if you don’t understand her. Now as we said in the beginning, understanding is also necessary if you want to ruin somebody’s life, if you want to seduce them or con them or torture them. But understanding still seems to be a necessary condition for doing good. So if it turns out understanding and feeling are essentially entangled, then I can’t argue against empathy. But they aren’t entangled. You can easily find dissociations.

One such disassociation is the competent psychopath. So some psychopaths are not as impressive as you might think. They’re just kind of screwed up people. But some psychopaths are really good with other people. They’re really good with other people because they understand them. They know what you want. They know what you like. They know you better than you know yourself, but they don’t give a shit. They could cause you a lot of pain and not blink.

Sean Illing

Do you see any social utility at all to empathy?

Paul Bloom

I think it leads us to poor moral decisions, but it’s often what people want. There are a lot of cases where people want another person to feel what they feel. Some cases are cases of moral persuasion where I want you to persuade you to help me and to get you to do that I need to get you to feel what I feel. My kid’s in the hospital. I need money for an operation. How would you feel? I try to motivate that as part of persuasion.

Sean Illing

I take your point that empathy is often tribalistic, but must it be it that way or is that what it is for most people most of the time? Consider a Buddhist monk or someone who meditates regularly on compassion. Empathy in these cases is not directed at particular people. I’d argue that empathy, exercised in this way, is an orientation, not an emotion directed at someone or something.

Paul Bloom

Those are two different questions. The monk stuff is interesting. I talk about monks and meditation and Buddhism in my book. They really caution you about empathy. They say to get what you’re talking about, to get where you are, you have to jettison empathy and feel love and compassion, loving kindness. But don’t try to crawl into people’s heads. That will exhaust you. That will cause all sorts of problems.

There’s some evidence that meditative practice and mindfulness meditation makes you into a sweeter person. There’s no definitive evidence of this, but the argument is that mediation makes you more compassionate by diminishing your empathy, so you can help without feeling suffering.

Here’s an analogy I give: Isn’t it unfortunate that people overwhelmingly like delicious and fatty foods? Why can’t they enjoy eating protein powder or spinach day and night? Can you say that it’s impossible to have a person who hates hot fudge sundaes and steaks and enjoys chewing protein powder? Is it impossible to have somebody who isn’t sexually aroused by attractive young people but is instead sexually aroused by virtuous people? Is it impossible there are people who are only angry at global warming but if you chopped off their arm, they wouldn’t mind at all? I don’t know. I don’t think we’re such creatures.

I got into a discussion with a British academic over the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. He says the problem is not enough empathy. I said the problem is too much empathy. He says, but can’t you imagine a person, an Israeli, who feels as much empathy for the Palestinians as he does for his own family? I could imagine it. It’s just not how we typically tend to work.

Sean Illing

I’ve always felt that identification with another’s suffering was the key impetus for human solidarity, and that empathy is a gateway to recognizing the commonality of experience. If we want to make the critical shift from solipsism to collective consciousness, don’t we need something like empathy?

Paul Bloom

I wouldn’t say with confidence that that’s wrong. In some ways, to the extent that empathy can do it, it’s the effect, not the cause. That is, if you put yourself in somebody’s shoes — a person in Africa, a trans individual, a nonhuman, someone who you otherwise wouldn’t relate to, you already have to acknowledge them as a person. It’s not like empathy is this magical thing.

Empathy is a psychological process of imagination. Basically you’re choosing to make that imaginative leap. But that’s the moral choice. Empathy is just the one way you enact it. But then the question is, do you need to enact it? I think about rights revolutions in our times. The dramatic change in attitudes toward gay people and, more recently, the dramatic change in attitudes towards trans people.

I’m not convinced that everybody’s who’s changed or everybody’s who acknowledges these rights, these groups who are otherwise included, does so because they imagine what it’s like. I imagine what it’s like to be a man who wants to have sex with another man and can’t marry. I imagine what it’s like to be somebody with a penis who identifies herself as a woman. Maybe I do that. Maybe I don’t. Maybe I just say, I hear your argument about human rights, and there’s no reason to deprive them.

Sean Illing

Perhaps it’s better to think of empathy as an instrument, not a virtue. It can be used for good or ill, depending on the person in whom it’s exercised. Con men, as you say, are exceedingly empathic, which is why they’re so effective. Someone like the Dalai Lama is similarly empathic, only his empathy is put to much better ends.

Paul Bloom

I think when it comes to moral reasoning, empathy is just a bad idea. It just throws in bias and innumeracy and confusion. But yes, when it comes to moral motivation, empathy can be used as a tool. If I want to get you to help the baby, I can say, look at the baby’s family, I could do that. If I want you to lynch African Americans in the South, I can say, look at these white women who’ve been raped, feel their pain, let’s go! It is a tool.

My point is that there are better and more reliable tools.

Sean Illing

I’ve argued elsewhere that privilege has a way of blinding the privileged, and that that is a big reason why people fail to notice the role of luck in their own life and, more importantly, the role of misfortune in the lives of others. Obviously the political implications of this are terrible. I’ve always understood this to be an argument in defense of empathy.

Am I mistaken?

Paul Bloom

I’ve never thought of it that way. I actually think attempts at empathy might actually make things worse. A friend of mine, another white guy born into privilege, once said very honestly, “I don’t really understand why poor people would do this or do that. If I were in their shoes, I would do this and that and so on.”

You could argue that he’s just not empathizing strong enough; if he fully appreciated what it’s like to lack the right education and so on, perhaps then he’d understand. I wonder if an appreciation of contingency, of blind luck, isn’t something you get through empathy but through a broader understanding.

I’m not entirely sure, but it’s a great question.

Sean Illing

I don’t share this view, but there some who think that you place too much faith in pure reason as a guide to morality. At some point, don’t you have to smuggle value or emotion into this? You can easily reason your way into eugenics or some other repugnant worldview, after all.

Paul Bloom

I make a distinction. I think reason is how we come to conclusions and, more specifically, how we achieve certain ends. What ends you seek can be derived from reason based on some other goals, but they’re ultimately not determined by reason. I could say, I want to make the world a better place and here’s how we should do it. And you could challenge me and say, why do you want to make the world a better place. I’m just going to say, I just do. So reason has to end somewhere.

I’m most interested in cases where rational people share the same goals and then the question is roughly how to get there. And there I think reason is better than emotions.

source: vox

Civil Defence deploys 750 officers in Yobe for Sallah


The Yobe State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has deployed 750 of its men across the state to provide security during the Sallah celebration.


The Commandant of the NSCDC in the state, Mr Ayinla Olowo, made the disclosure in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Damaturu.

“The 750 officers have been deployed across the 17 local governments in the state, including the state’s capital, to provide adequate security during the Eid-El-Kabir celebration.

“The personnel, including intelligence officers have been stationed at strategic locations for intelligence gathering and reporting, to complement other sister security agencies during the celebrations,” he said.

Yobe like other states in the northeast has been at the receiving end of a decade-long Islamic insurgency that has killed thousands of people and displaced millions.

Olowo lauded the Yobe Government for donating four new Toyota Hilux to the command, to strengthen its operations.

The commandant pledged that the command would reciprocate the government’s gesture by showing more commitment in their service delivery.

He wished Yobe residents a hitch-free sallah celebration, advising them to be cautious and to report suspicious movements to security operatives. (NAN)


Clearer Guidelines Needed for kids with mobile devices – study


Australian parents need clearer and more consistent guidelines for deciding their children’s mobile device screen use, according to a research published on Monday from Western Australia’s Curtin University.

Lead researcher, Prof. Leon Straker said that there were conflicting advice from authorities which is leaving parents unsure about what is best for their children.

“We found that the current national guidelines provided in Australia consisted of conflicting information, philosophies, priorities and processes, making it difficult for health professionals and educators to give valuable and balanced advice to parents on the use of digital technologies,” Straker said.

Many now consider the use of mobile touch screens to be ubiquitous with the modern world, and, therefore, important for children to become comfortable with.

“However, it is important to address both the positive and negative effects of digital technology for young children,” Straker said.

“Education and industry authorities encourage the use of digital technology by young children to prepare them to thrive in the digital world, while health authorities discourage the use and raise concerns about the potential negative effects on children’s physical, cognitive, emotional and social well-being.”

This conflicting advice is leaving parents and teachers with no clear understanding of how best to familiarise young people with the technology which increasingly forms part of daily life, while also setting boundaries for use and allowing their minds to develop naturally and healthily.

“Our findings may be of interest to health providers, family doctors, along with educators and other professionals, who are in an ideal position to help families more successfully navigate through this rapidly evolving digital world.”


1439AH: Eid-El-Adha Goodwill Message from NSCIA


Salisu Shehu, Abuja: The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) – under the leadership of its President-General and Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alh. Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, mni – felicitates with the Nigerian Muslim ‘ Ummah and indeed the entire Muslim world on the auspicious occasion of the 1439 AH ‘Eidel Adha celebrations. We beseech Allah to grant us the opportunity to witness many more of it. Amin.

According to the ‘Sunnah of the noble Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Muslims who are not on pilgrimage in the Holy Land are enjoined to fast on the day of ‘Arafat and engage themselves in acts of worship and veneration to Allah, believing that with sincerity of intentions, He will forgive their proclivity to transgressions and overlook their short-comings of the preceding and proceeding years and admit them to His Jannah. We therefore, ask Allah to accept our ‘ibadat, increase our ‘iman and grant us protection, contentment and a grateful heart. Amin.

Fellow servants of Allah, in celebrating this year’s ‘Eidel Adha, we must not lose sight of the quintessential virtues and blessings, as well as the moral and spiritual wisdom of the season. Eidel Adha is a period of introspection and soul searching. It symbolizes Sacrifice, which was sufficiently demonstrated by our patriarch – Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH).

Making sacrifices for the collective good of all and posterity (a key component that is missing in our national life, which is partly responsible for the quagmire we have found ourselves in) is one of the major lessons of the ‘Eid. Our Patriarch was willing to let go (sacrifice) that which he cherished most – his only son, Isma’il as sacrifice in obedience to Allah’s dictates. (Q37:102)

On this note, we urge all Muslims in Nigeria to be good ambassadors of Islam as we continue to promote and embrace peace, and eschew all and any anti- social behaviour(s) that may be inimical to national cohesion and stability.

Finally, the Council beseeches Allah to restore peace and stability to all the troubled parts of our great country and the world at large. We also pray to Allah to grant our leaders the will and courage to stand firm on the path of righteousness, responsible and responsive leadership, good governance and justice to all.

Once again, ‘Eid Mubarak. Taqabbalallahu minna waminkum and Happy Holidays.


Hajj 2018: NAHCON Moves 55,000 Pilgrims to Arafat


Image result for hajj 2018


Nigeria’s contingent of 55,000 pilgrims to this year’s Hajj have moved to Mount Arafat on Sunday midnight to begin the Hajj proper in the Holy Land.

The movement began with pilgrims from Adamawa and Oyo states who had hitherto been camped along with their counterparts from the 36 states and FCT in Muna, few kilometres away from the Holy city of Makkah.

The Arafat movement, supervised by top officials of NAHCON and its Chief Executive Abdullahi Muhktar, was in batches after the commission formed committees to monitor the exercise.

Muhktar said at the inaugural exercise that the strategy of early evacuation of pilgrims was to reduce the harsh weather effect and allow pilgrims settle down for prayers and other rites.

He advised both officials and pilgrims to drink enough water and eat very well in view of the enormity of the exercise.

The Movement Team Leader, Dr Aliyu Tanko, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the Arafat was the most important pillar of Hajj which every pilgrim must perform.

“Arafah is the Hajj and pilgrim that missed it has not fulfilled the fundamental pillar of the pilgrimage.”

Mukhtar had earlier confirmed to NAN that the figure of pilgrims for the Hajj was updated after the arrival of all, including the 18,000 allocated to tour operators.

The states had transported 38,000 through the NAHCON. (NAN)


Hajj climax: over 2m Muslims Converge on Mount Arafat


Image result for hajj 2018

, Aug. 20, 2018 (NAN) No fewer than two million pilgrims converged on Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia on Monday to mark the climax of the 2018 pilgrimage.

A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent covering the Hajj, reports that at least 55,000 Nigerians are part of the gathering.

The event at Mount Arafat features Pilgrims’ supplication for Allah’s guidance and forgiveness.

It also involves staying at Arafat from sunrise until sunset as a major rite of the pilgrimage.

NAN reports that movement from Muna, where the pilgrims spent the night in tents , started as early as 12 midnight on Sunday and was completed at about 6 a.m.

Pilgrims were camped in the tents, fully equipped with cooling system, to alleviate the high temperature which sometimes rose to 44 degrees Centigrade.

Earlier at the inaugural movement of the pilgrims to Arafat, the Chairman, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Abdullahi Mukhtar, said the Commission commenced the movement early to reduce the harsh effect of weather on them.

The NAHCON boss, who supervised the exercise, said its coordination and monitoring were done by committees set up by the commission.

He said NAHCON would continue to make innovations in organising pilgrimages, to ease difficulties of pilgrims.

NAN reports that pilgrims stand on the plains of mount Arafat in supplication, praying to Almighty Allah to attain various needs in life and hereafter.

Observing the Arafat prayers is the strongest pillar of Hajj, in fact there is no Hajj without the Arafat.

Nigerian pilgrims are expected to hold a Congregational national prayer session later in the day. (NAN)


Wilfred Ndidi committing his future to Leicester, signs a six-year deal after starring in the win over Wolves


Wilfred Ndidi has committed his future to Leicester by signing a six-year contract, the club have announced.

The 21-year-old Nigeria midfielder’s new deal will keep him at the King Power Stadium until the summer of 2024.

A statement on lcfc.com said: ‘In the 18 months since his arrival from Belgian side Genk, the 21-year-old has developed into one of the Premier League’s most exciting talents as well as a key member of Leicester’s first-team squad.’

Speaking after putting pen to paper, Ndidi said: ‘I’m very happy to sign this contract with Leicester. I have enjoyed every moment of my time with the football club, so I’m thrilled to be here for six more years.

‘Together with my team-mates and our wonderful supporters, I hope we can look forward to many more fantastic moments.’

Ndidi has made 63 appearances for the Foxes since his arrival from Genk in a £15million deal in January 2017.


LASG seeks support of residents as Third Mainland Bridge undergoes test from August 23 To 26


The Lagos State Government has said that the Third Mainland Bridge will be temporarily shut down for from midnight of August 23 to midnight of August 26, 2018 for Investigative Maintenance Test to be carried out.

The State’s Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Ade Akinsanya,in a statement on Sunday appealed for the cooperation, support and understanding of all motorists and residents during the closure.

He said the decision for the four-day closure was reached after consultations with the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.

The four-day closure, according to Akinsanya, will enable the contractors assess the true state of the bridge after which works would commence by the end of the year or early in 2019.

He said that the Federal Government had earlier announced plans to shut the bridge in July, but postponed it in order to have wider consultation with the state government and other relevant stakeholders to avert gridlock.

Akinsanya said: “The 3rd Mainland Bridge which was opened about 30 years ago by the then military government has had haphazard maintenance and repairs in the past which the present Federal Government is committed to correct by carrying out proper and continuous maintenance and repairs on it.”

The commissioner said that all traffic management agencies had been mandated to ensure smooth flow of traffic on all alternative routes across the metropolis to ensure free flow of traffic.